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Bridging the Gap: Challenges and Opportunities of IoT and Wireless Sensor Networks in Marine Environmental Monitoring
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1  Centro Tecnológico Naval y del Mar
Academic Editor: Stefano Mariani


Marine environmental monitoring has gained increasing attention due to growing concerns over climate change and the development of the Blue Economy, which recognizes the significance of oceans and seas as drivers of the economy. Over the past two decades, advanced Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have been applied to the development of monitoring systems for the marine environment and its anthropogenic activities. In this context, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology that is increasingly demonstrating its role in this area. IoT offers data processing capabilities that enable intelligent control of objects and the agile development of new applications and businesses, which can be aligned with biodiversity conservation and economic development.

One key technology for implementing IoT is Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN), which consist of autonomous devices distributed throughout an area of interest to monitor physical or environmental parameters. However, the application of IoT in the marine environment is still far from being a reality, and the utilization of WSN in the marine environment remains limited. Challenges such as modeling, energy supply, range, bandwidth, among others, persist. In fact, the number of deployments of these technologies in the marine environment lags significantly behind their land-based counterparts. Moreover, the extensive and contextualized study of wireless communication technologies in the marine environment is still lacking.

Therefore, this paper presents a comprehensive study on different communication technologies (Bluetooth, ZigBee, WiFi, WiMax, LoRa, LoRaWAN, SigmaFox, GSM, 3G, 4G, etc.), considering not only their spatial coverage but also deployment and maintenance costs, energy consumption, stability, data throughput, and more. Special attention is given to the opportunities that wireless technologies offer for marine conservation and sustainable development of activities such as port operations, aquaculture, fishing, offshore renewable energy, autonomous vehicles for risk mitigation, and more.

Finally, this paper presents the results of implementing and testing some of the aforementioned technologies in real coastal locations in the Region of Murcia, evaluating their performance at various distances and data rates. The findings provide valuable insights for the future deployment of wireless communication technologies in the marine environment, fostering both environmental preservation and the sustainable advancement of marine-related activities.

Keywords: Marine environmental monitoring; IoT; WSN; LoRa; ZigBee; wide range communication; sustainability; environmental preservation;